Pilgrims will be allowed to undertake the annual pilgrimage only if they test negative for Covid-19, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has said

Amarnath Yatra 2020 will be a 15-day affair with 500 yatris allowed per day, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has decided amid a surge in coronavirus cases and the closure of religious places in the Union Territory, the New Indian Express has reported.

All the pilgrims who arrive to participate in the Amarnath Yatra will have to undergo testing for Covid-19 before being allowed to proceed.

The annual yatra was scheduled to begin from June 23; it is now likely to take place from July 21 to August 3, according to the report.

Lieutenant Governor GC Murmu offered the ‘pratham puja’ (first prayers) at the cave shrine on Sunday, the report said.

The pratham puja was telecast live by Prasar Bharati. The national broadcaster will telecast the prayers live everyday for the devotees across the country, The New Indian Express report said.

It quoted official sources as saying that the Amarnath Yatra would not be allowed along the traditional Pahalgam route in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district but will instead use the shorter Baltal route in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district. This route is about 14 km-long.

According to the New Indian Express, all the would be tested for Covid-19 using the RTPCR test and only negative cases would be allowed to undertake the yatra.

“All entrants into J&K including yatris will have to be tested and quarantined till they are reported to be negative,” J&K Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam was quoted as saying at a meeting to review the preparations.

Camping facilities earlier utilised for yatris at the entry points (Yatra Niwas) are currently being utilized as quarantine centres.

Read the full report in The New Indian Express